HOW WE LEARNED 

I learned the pangs
of Shenzhen nights, with its shattering
bus horns, skyscrapers draped
in cords of neon, steam from street
vendors stirring with the stress
of street life. And us, holed
away in our eighteenth-floor apartment
stalling until the next move to anywhere
more exotic. I learned your new routine:
cold pork dumplings in front of the TV, quiet.
Teaching in Shenzhen had taught us
that we probably wouldn’t be more
than the nucleus we already were.
So we learned comfort in Benny’s pepperoni pizza,
bingeing bootlegged Harry Potter DVDs, and corking
out the bustle below until our world
once wide now squared
in by tile and concrete.
That night you sent me out
for pizza, but I learned you really sent me out
for America, for anything
resembling home. When I returned
I found you wielding the white stick
like a wand, tears swimming on the rims
of your eyes. And your smile so pure—
expectant—because you had just learned
your body had finally
conjured magic.


STEPHEN BRISEÑO is an author and teacher living in San Antonio.